The mother of 39-year-old murder victim Gabriela Kabrins Alban has told the Western Cape High Court that her only daughter’s killer sentenced her to “life without parole”.
Diego Dougherty Novella, 45, from a prominent and wealthy Guatemalan family, has been convicted of Alban’s July 2015 murder in the hotel room they shared in Camps Bay, Cape Town.
Doris Weitz, testifying in aggravation of sentence, told the court that she suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome, takes antidepressants and cries herself to sleep every night.
“When I close my eyes the movie of what he did to my daughter comes to me.”
She told the court: “It was a murder so cruel, I could not hold or comfort her while she was suffering and dying. She was butchered, I can’t say some of the other things done to her. I could not say goodbye to her.”
During the trial, Novella claimed that drugs he ingested, that included sceletium and cannabis oil, had had disinhibiting effects, but Judge Vincent Saldanha rejected this in his ruling and found that Novella had been able to distinguish between right and wrong.
Sighing audibly during Weitz’s testimony and at times shaking his head in disagreement, Novella was reprimanded more than once by the judge.
Weitz told the court that her daughter’s last words to her had been “Mommy, I love you.”
“No one will ever call me mommy again.”
Weitz said she was coping as well as she could, but sometimes battled to get out of bed. “There will be no recovery from this.”
She testified that her daughter became sick with lyme disease, and her pain was exacerbated by an initial misdiagnosis of addison’s disease. She told the court that during one period she spent up to ten hours a day with Gabriela at her flat, keeping her company and cooking for her as she was unable to get out of bed.
During cross examination, defence lawyer William Booth said there had been arguments between mother and daughter, and claimed that Gabriela had complained to Novella about Weitz being at her apartment all the time.
But Weitz told the court that was not the case. “She would get upset because I was going home. I could not fight with someone for eight hours.”
Her daughter could barely get up in the morning and was often in pain. Gabriela “despaired about her reliance on others”.
“She was weak until the day she was murdered.”
When Weitz received a call from the American consulate and was informed of the murder, she told the court she became hysterical, but could not remember much else.
Furthermore, sensational and false news reports alleging a sex orgy in the hotel room and the consumption of large amounts of drugs had left her “deeply disturbed”.
The body was also not flown back to the United States immediately, compounding Weitz’s grief. She told the court that in terms of Jewish custom an autopsy cannot be performed on the body, and it must be buried with all its body parts. As Gabriela was an organ donor, she was buried without her brain. In terms of tradition, you are also supposed to be buried within 24 hours.
Weitz said the trial had taken its toll and the arrogance displayed by Novella had been hurtful. “He said he loved Gaby, but his actions speak louder than words.”
“No doubt he is sorry about the situation he is in, but his remorse is self directed.” She said comparing his own mother’s pain, who lost a son in a tragic car accident, to her pain was “an insult”.
“He blamed a demon, he blamed drugs, at times he appeared to blame Gaby.”
Sentencing proceedings were adjourned to Wednesday.
– African News Agency (ANA)